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softball injuries

Common Sports Injuries in Softball

Softball is a popular, fun sport. Like many physical activities and sports, however, it does come with its own risks in injury. Different positions have separate likelihoods for what sort of injury one may sustain though some cross over. Most often these injuries will include the hand, the wrist and the forearm, the shoulder and the back. They’re all connected, after all. Pitchers will have a slightly different form of injury when they do get hurt due to the windmill motions that effect the same areas in a different way.

Tendinitis is most common from overuse. This when a tendon becomes inflamed. It can be present in back and neck pain, in the elbow and down to the wrist. Over-head throwing motions can aggravate this and for catchers, knee inflammation is often also a reported and suffered injury.

It is extremely important to give these injuries the proper healing time that is needed, or re-injury and aggravation is much more likely. These are different in nature to what are called ‘acute injuries’ which is in the event of something sudden and immediate. That would fall under the category of a broken bone or a deep wound in need of stitches.

Injuries of the knees are not the most common when playing softball. However, when a kneecap gets twisted it can result in permanent pain and even the need for surgery to fix the kneecap that has slipped and torn. They are very delicate and once injured tend to plague the victim.

Muscle strains and lower back pain is common across the board no matter what your position on a softball team. Squatting over a home plate for a catcher doesn’t help this situation, so warming up and making sure to stretch throughout the games is important.

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Softball Performance – How Soft Is Softball

How soft is Softball? Ordinary Softball Injuries and their Prevention

Softball is feminine. As such, one may not easily encounter hard instant injuries as it is in football or in rugby. Nonetheless, softball too has a class of “soft injuries” that are very common among its players. Usually, it only takes a good game momentum due to a stiff competition before the first aid kit finds its job in softball. A later research on the softball injuries by the Stop Sport Injuries organization has reported that softball injuries are likely to be the most dangerous when neglected. This edition intends to explore the main softball injuries and some of the ways to prevent them.

The Commonly Affected Body Parts

The North Central Surgical Center (NCSC) classified the common softball injuries into two categories: the injuries due to overuse and injuries due to an instantaneous force on a body part. The injuries that are due to overuse occur as a result of neglect and stress on a body part whereas the acute injuries are due to poor playing practice. Here is a list of the most commonly affected body parts:

 

  1. Shoulders injuries

For most pitchers, the danger of a shoulder injury will always lurk. The NCSC noted that tendon inflammation is the leading shoulder injury. When it persists, a player may easily lose his/her shoulder stability. In such a case, one may also lose a talent together with the shoulder. On extremes, it may lead to a frozen shoulder which leads to shoulder separation.

 

  1. Back injuries

These injuries are mainly experienced by softball catchers. This owes to their prolonged squatting posture while wearing the heavy protective clothing. The research indicated that prolonged engagements without proper rest may result to back pains and in some cases severe back injuries or shaking of the spine.

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Softball Tips – Recovery and Regeneration

By Laurel J. Freeman

softball-injury-iceIce, anyone? Ice isn’t just for cold drinks. In the past eight to 10 years, many studies have shown the benefits of ice as therapy. Here are the answers to some common ice-related questions.

What does ice do?

Ice is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective self care techniques for injury, pain, or discomfort in muscles and joints. Ice will decrease muscle spasms, pain, and inflammation to bone and soft tissue. You can use ice initially at the site of discomfort, pain, or injury. You can also apply ice in later stages for rehabilitation of injuries or chronic (long-term) problems.
During an initial injury, tissue damage can cause uncontrolled swelling. This swelling can increase the damage of the initial injury and delay the healing time. If you use ice immediately, you will reduce the amount of swelling. Ice decreases all of these: swelling, tissue damage, blood clot formation, inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. At the same time, the ice enhances the flow of nutrients into the area, aids in the removal of metabolites (waste products), increases strength, and promotes healing. This “ice effect” is not related to age, sex, or circumference of the injured area.

Four stages in ice therapy

There are four official stages to ice. The first stage is cold, the second is burning/pricking, the third stage is aching, which can sometimes hurt worse than the pain. The fourth and most important stage is numbness. As soon as this stage is achieved, remove the ice. Time duration depends upon body weight. Twenty to thirty minutes should be the maximum time per area. If it is necessary to reapply ice, let the skin go to normal temperature or go back to the third stage of aching.

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Softball Coaching Tips – In Season Rest

softballrainouts

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

Where I live the rain has been brutal this Spring season. I believe it’s been that way in other parts of the country as well.

What that’s meant has been cancellation of some games that might be considered “friendlies” and rescheduling of others that have to be played — such as conference games. Of course, most high school teams try to fit in as many games as they can already, so when you have to start rescheduling the schedule can get pretty jam-packed.

For many teams, that now means playing single games Monday-Friday, plus double headers on Saturday. That’s an awful lot of softball — especially for the #1 pitcher on a team without a solid #2.

Of course, as the rain continues even the rescheduled games get postponed again. And that’s the time that smart coaches will take the gift and let their players get a little recovery time from the nagging aches and pains that come with the softball season.

I’m not talking about cancelling practice. Far from it. You have to keep going to stay sharp. (If you haven’t been sharp, a little extra practice time is the opportunity to hit the reset button and try to get there.) But you also have to take a practical look at things.

Let’s say that #1 pitcher has been throwing a lot of inning over the past couple of weeks. Even pitchers with good mechanics get tired or sore after awhile — it’s called a repetitive motion injury. If that’s happening, the smart thing to do is give her the day off from pitching. Let her rest the arm, and maybe visit the trainer for a little treatment. If her legs are fine, have her hop on the bike or treadmill, or do a pitcher-specific workout. Anything that gives the arm a break.

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Coaching Softball – Hurt vs Injured

Is there a difference between hurt and injured?

softball injuriesOne of the hardest things in this game is knowing, as a softball coach, where the line is between a player being hurt and a player being injured. The longer I’m around this game, and the more amazing young ladies I watch, the harder it is for me to know the difference between her needing to come out of the game, and her being able to push forward.

Just when I think I know the level to which they can ignore the pain, another player comes along and demonstrates to me that I still underestimate the ability for heart and determination to push past physically pain.  Recently I watched one of the players that I work with frequently do something that raised my expectations of just how tough a player can really be.

Before I share the specifics about her let me share that I already had high expectations. At a recent National Professional Fastpitch event I had Caitlin Lowe sign a poster for one of my top slappers. When I gave her the poster she said “Coach you have no idea how much I love Caitlin Lowe. As a young girl I watched her run into a fence and break her nose. I want to be like her.” At which point I interrupted her and asked “You want to break your nose running into a fence?” She said “Of course not. She came back the next day and played ball. I want the chance in my career to show the world how tough I can really be, just like her.”

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Softball Tips: Don’t Mess With Injuries

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

softball injuryThe sports culture is a funny thing. We praise the “toughness” of players who play through pain while dismissing as wimps those who come out of a game because they’re hurting. Back in my day, in fact, the usual advice was “rub a little dirt on it” or “walk it off.”

Yet often that’s not a good idea. Pain is your body’s way of telling you “something is wrong, stop doing what you’re doing.” You ignore that advice from your own body at your own peril.

Coaches need to be aware of when pain goes from being the result of a little extra to the result of not stopping what you’re doing. They need to encourage their athletes to be honest and tell them when there’s a real problem. They also need their players to know that admitting to injury won’t automatically lead to them being on the bench — the Wally Pipp effect. (For those who don’t know who that is, Google it!)

While injury has always been a part of sports, it seems like it’s become even more common in the last few years. Part of the reason is that athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than they were in the past. While that’s helpful most of the time, it also puts more strain on their bodies.

Then there are some of the techniques that are used. Pitchers in particular may find that they pick up 3-4 mph using a particular technique. And since speed is always important, they’ll do it whether it makes biomechanical sense or not. Then there are those who are comfortable with their technique and thus don’t want to change it — even if their coach(es) warn them that it could lead to a serious injury.

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Recovery and Regeneration – Give Yourself a Break!

recovery-regenerationBy Coach Marc

I can’t believe it… my softball season is already over! I know  it’s a cliche but it’s crazy how quickly time goes by.

We don’t see the time go by because our seasons are so busy and so intense that before we realized it, they’re over!

However, since they’re so intense, emotionally and physically draining, a break is always welcome.

You see, any elite athlete no matter the sport or the level need  some form of break at some point during the year.

That usually happens at the end of the competitive season and is called a transition phase. It’s basically the first phase of the off-season period.

It’s a very crucial rest period for any elite athlete no matter the sport or the level.

This break will allow the athlete to recharge the batteries, heal nagging injuries, and give them an important mental break.

This transition period should be at least 3 weeks and ideally up to 6-8 weeks. Yes, that long!

For many of us, time spent away from the field or the cage is often seen as wasted time because we could be working on mechanics and conditioning.

It’s very tempting take this period lightly, underestimate its importance and want to shorten it up as much as possible.

However, that period is very crucial to ensure a full mental and physical recovery. Don’t underestime its importance!

If you go back too fast, you’re at greater risk of injuries, mental and/or physical burnout, loss of motivation, plateau, etc.

During this break, no softball whatsoever but it’s encouraged to remain active and participate in recreational activities for fun but no formal conditioning.

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Softball Training – Shoulder Injuries in Softball

shoulder-injuryBy Coach Marc

I received the following email from one of our subscribers:

“Marc,

Quick question please:

Have you noticed an excess number of shoulder injuries and shoulder surgeries?

I was in OKC to watch the WCWS (4th year attending)  and talked with another coach from Mississippi that  told me he sees the same thing.  An awful lot of  players with shoulder injuries.

If so, what do you attribute to this?   50+ weeks a year work and overuse?? Improper stretching along with improper throwing mechanics?

One thing is for sure,  this needs to be addressed at  a national level and coaches need to be educated to  ensure our young female athletes are not damaging  their shoulders and requiring surgery as an expected  part of playing softball!

I did like the note ref Jaeger’s Long Toss, Arm Circles  and J Bands warmups before throwing.  I’ll have to get  quite a few coaches to tell me they are already using
this type warmup before throwing, as I’m sure my coaches will be reluctant to change unless its well known  in the community.

Jim”

Here is my answer:

Yes, there is an increase in the number of shoulder injuries in our sport.

It is due to many factors:

1) Uni-dimensional athlete

The modern day softball player isn’t an athlete anymore;  she is just a good softball player. By that I mean that  nowadays, kids specializes in one sport (softball) too
early and don’t participate in other sports. This results in poor overall athletic development, muscular imbalances and overuse of certain muscles (throwing) because of
repetitive use.

2) Improper throwing mechanics

We don’t spend enough time reinforcing proper throwing mechanics and many kids end up overcompensating with other muscles which create problems over time.

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Softball Pitching Myth Busted!

softball-pitching2By Coach Marc

For years, we’ve heard that the windmill pitching motion is natural and safe for the body unlike the overhead throwing motion that baseball players use.

The common belief is that overhead throwing motion puts a lot more stress on the shoulder and the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding it and that leads to way more injuries than underhand pitching.

As evidence, were are given the example that baseball pitchers are required to take a break of a couple of between starts where softball pitchers often pitch 2 games the same day and several in a weekend.

While we can’t dispute the fact that softball pitchers throw a more than baseball pitchers, the belief that softball pitchers are less subject to injuries than is  a total myth.

More and more research studies are showing that the incidence of pitching injuries in softball is pretty much the same as in baseball.

While the windmill pitching motion might be a “little  easier” on the shoulder and arm, it doesn’t make it “easy” on these structures!

In fact, the studies are showing that the windmill pitching motion is very tough on the body.

There is a growing body of evidence that the softball pitching motion is far from being “safe” and that numerous injuries – mostly overuse injuries due to repetitive stress, faulty mechanics, or muscular imbalances – occur every year.

Here is one example of such study that I’ve reported on this blog:

Softball Pitching – Biceps Injuries Rise During Windmill Pitching

From personal experience, over the last 15 years, I have seen  many young talented pitchers just disappeared after they have  suffered various overuse injuries.

Young softball pitchers are at risk and the windmill pitching motion isn’t totally natural or safe on the body. softball-training1

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Softball Pitching – Biceps Injuries Rise During Windmill Pitching

softball-pitching1By Coach Marc

Softball pitching requires much effort and energy especially from the biceps. Each time a softball pitcher swings the ball around and then releases it at full velocity, the biceps are bombarded with lofty forces and torques which may cause strain and discomfort – Rush University Medical Center Chicago.

The windmill style of pitching in softball which required underhand throws, according to the medical doctor Verma, Nikki N. promoted more cases of anterior or front pain of the shoulders or biceps of female softball pitchers.

A study was made using seven female softball pitchers as test subjects were conducted. It utilized electromyography in order to evaluate and determine the muscle firing power of the biceps during the whole of the windmill pitch… The study resulted in a conclusion that was very much intriguing; according to the press release done, the force exerted by the muscle of the biceps area was very high compared to the overhand pitches done. Also, when the arm reached its full swing where it is almost entirely stretched to the back then rapidly shifts to a stance that is completely at right angles with the ground was when the total muscle contraction and force was seen and experienced.

Female softball pitchers who frequently performed windmill pitches usually complained of pain and discomfort on the shoulder area. The Rush University with their advanced human motion technology and laboratory was able to pinpoint the exact location of the pain which was on the biceps of the players.

It has then been concluded that the biceps incurred most of the impact due to an application of such great acceleration then stopping immediately as soon as the force has been transferred to the ball.

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